Frederic Remington 1861-1909
- Frederic Remington
- The Outlaw
- inscribed Copyright by Frederic Remington with the Roman Bronze Works N.Y. foundry mark and numbered No. 1 beneath the base
- bronze, dark brown patina
Private Collection, 1906 (acquired directly from the artist)
Patrick Tomasulo (his son), Paterson, New Jersey, circa 1930
Dorothy McGregor (his sister), 1951
Margot and Boruch Lichtenstein, Brooklyn, New York, 1973 (sold: Christie's, New York, December 2, 1977)
Kennedy Galleries, New York, 1978
Acquired by the present owner from the above
Harold McCracken, The Frederic Remington Book: A Pictorial History of the West, Garden City, New York, 1966, illustration of another example fig. 378
Peter Hassrick, Frederic Remington: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture in the Amon Carter Museum and the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Collections, New York, 1973, no. 89, p. 203, illustration of another example p. 202
Michael Edward Shapiro, Cast and Recast: The Sculpture of Frederic Remington, Washington, D.C., 1981, pp. 55, 108, illustration of another example, fig. 36
Michael Edward Shapiro and Peter Hassrick, Frederic Remington: The Masterworks, New York, 1988, pp. 231, 267, illustration of another example p. 216
Michael D. Greenbaum, Icons of the West: Frederic Remington's Sculpture, Ogdensburg, New York, 1996, pp. 133-137, 194, illustrations of other examples pp. 134-137
Throughout his career, Frederic Remington celebrated the skill and daring of the "wild riders," those men who broke and tamed new saddle horses. Describing the practice, he once wrote: "Few Eastern people appreciate the sky-rocket bounds, and grunts, and stiff-legged striking ... the 'bucking' process is entered into with great spirit by the pony but once, and that is when he is first under the saddle-tree. If that 'scrape' is 'ridden out' by his master the broncho's spirit is broken" (Frank Oppel, ed., Frederic Remington, Selected Writings, 1981, p. 201). The Outlaw captures that explosive moment when the "great spirit" of the horse collides with the tenacity of the cowboy.
In his two dimensional works Remington often depicted the unruly cow ponies in mid-air with all four hooves off the ground. Though an impossible order for a single figure sculpture, Remington nevertheless endeavored to represent the horse in a gravity-defying pose. Remington was well aware of the challenges and sent a wry Christmas card to Riccardo Bertelli, head of the Roman Bronze Works, that included sketches of himself, Bertelli, and the horse with a caption in which Remington asks "Can you cast him" and Bertelli retorts "Do you think I am one of the Wright brothers"? (Cast and Recast, 1981, p. 55). Bertelli and his staff clearly overcame the obstacles posed by Remington's design and the resulting sculpture is a study in suspended animation. The hindquarters of the bucking horse are nearly vertical while its rider, with a graceful arch of his back, balances himself in the saddle. With both man and horse perched on a single front hoof, the entire figure appears to float above the base.
With Bertelli's help, Remington was able to take greater advantage of bronze's tensile strength through the use of the lost wax process, which allowed him to create the design for The Outlaw. Remington began working in the lost wax casting method in 1900 when he moved to Roman Bronze Works, a foundry which worked exclusively in this process. The lost wax technique resulted in greater detail and surface texture and also permitted the artist to make changes to his compositions throughout the casting process. Remington would produce an initial clay model in his studio in Rochester, New York and then send that model to Roman Bronze Works to be duplicated in wax. Once the wax model had been created, Remington would go to the foundry to make his final alterations before the bronze casting began.
Michael D. Greenbaum explains that "The Outlaw's primary strength as an extraordinary three-dimensional work, the forward pose of the rider, was lost in later castings. Without Remington's attention and presence at the foundry, the rider was repositioned back in the saddle—a distortion of the original design" (Icons of the West, 1996, p. 133). Only fifteen of the approximately forty castings of The Outlaw produced by the Roman Bronze Works were executed during Remington's lifetime. This sculpture, the first of those fifteen, exhibits all the detailed elements that set the early casts apart, most importantly, the horse's muscular structure and soft, textured skin, the fluid folds of the cowboy's clothes, and the modeling of his expressive face.